Housing Conference Recap – Finding the New Normal

The “good old days” of housing are gone for good. If you are waiting for the housing industry to get back to normal, you’re in for a surprise. It’s not going to happen. The old “normal” is gone, a new “normal” is evolving. Springfield’s 1st regional housing conference served as a road map for success in navigating the new normal.

Our growing population alone will drive the need for new homes, but the “Mega-Mansions” of recent years will not return. There will certainly always be large, even luxurious homes built, but that will be a rarity. Rising utility costs, increasing material expenses, and a “green” mentality of conservatism all point to a paradigm shift in the housing industry. In short, the homes we build are catching up with the shift the auto industry went through beginning in the 80’s. The end product will be similar: smaller, more efficient, with nicer amenities.

As much as I would love to give the Reader’s Digest version of the conference, it would be impossible to include in one article. The speakers were all incredibly knowledgeable and on the cutting edge of our industry. We heard from Debra Bassert, an NAHB veteran who is Editor in Chief of Land Development magazine. Joe Zanola summarized an enormous volume of local statistics to clearly spell out the facts on lot development and new construction for our market, and in relation those to the other 21 states they track. (We are still at the top of the pack in reasons to be optimistic.) Other speakers led break out sessions that were relevant to those in attendance. The day was full of invaluable information — for example, to download the most up-to-date new housing supply and demand chart for our six county area, click here.

Our keynote speaker Edsel Charles was far more than I expected. His credentials were impressive enough, but the more he “taught” us (he was clearly more than a polished speaker), the more all of those in attendance were aware that we were in the presence of a national housing giant. Mr. Charles was among the final four in President Obama’s hunt for a new Secretary of HUD, in spite of his Republican background. He is a former home builder, developer, and owner of a real estate company where he trained and employed nationally known radio host Dave Ramsey. The founder of MarketGraphics research group, Edsel Charles is mentor to 9 of the top 10 builders in the United States. His list of clients include municipalities, banks and builders that include David Weekly, Centex, Pulte and other nationally-known companies.

The road map for success was presented at the conference — we are already planning for next year’s event. The pitfalls were defined and the path to a different, yet exciting, future was clarified. And while attending this one event will not guarantee success, operating in the dark is not an option for those professionals who will be the leaders in the new “normal”. I look forward to learning, adjusting, and moving forward with confidence into an exciting future in building the American Dream. I am still “keeping the faith.”

God Bless,

Rusty MacLachlan